Author: Lucy Culkin

Steve Belasco is the man behind ‘Jurassic Photographic’; with a passion for the Jurassic Coast of East Devon and Dorset, he has captured the image of the coast in all weathers and all seasons. Steve’s work may look familiar to you, as the photographer behind many of the images we publish on our website and in our publications. Steve takes breathtaking images behind the lens, from the coasts stunning waters.

In today’s blog, Steve tells us all about his ‘Top 5 ace places from the sea’.

My five favourite places on the Jurassic Coast? Impossible. But here are five fine spots I love to visit on my boat. It seems strange that, although I’m very interested in how humans interact with and enjoy the 21st-century Jurassic Coast, this selection of my ‘ace places’ is often totally bereft of them!

five ace places

Gad Cliff ©

Gad Cliff and Brandy Bay

The shallow Brandy Bay to the west of Kimmeridge Bay is hard-bottomed and shallow, and going close inshore requires cautious navigation. In many ways austere, with low shale cliffs to the east and large, fallen rocks to the north, the bay can be wonderfully peaceful and quiet on a sunny morning with just the echoing sound of raptors on the hunt high above. Brandy Bay is prosaically-named after the nefarious smuggling activity that was based here in the past…

The mighty Gad Cliff towers above, reminiscent from some angles, of the presidents of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
If you’re lucky, and very observant, you might just catch sight of the feral goats that have lived here for centuries. Apparently, there are also a great number of adders living here, so watch out…

five ace places portland

Portland Bill ©

Portland Bill

I reckon the Bill area to extend a kilometre or so up either side of the island from the actual point. When close offshore at the point the rocks, lighthouse and Trinity House obelisk dominate. Move out a little and the view broadens abruptly, from Pulpit Rock on the west side to Gode Nore in the east. It all encompasses a fascinating collection of rock ledges, deep caves, quarries and even a couple of tiny ‘islands’!

Though a little sinister on a dark day, and strictly out of bounds when it’s blowing, there’s a surprising amount of colour here when the sun shines, from the reds of the lighthouse itself and a couple of ancient cranes, to the warm yellows created by the raised beach along here, not to mention the colourful beach huts.

five ace places undercliff

The Undercliff ©

The Undercliff

East Devon’s Undercliff has been much written about as a unique wilderness of dense undergrowth with its own micro-climate. I love the ‘primordial’ look of the place. Dark green foliage dominates, vaguely reminiscent of the mangrove, with patches of white and red cliff shining out, and the plateau of Goat Island, the Jurassic Coast’s answer to the classic movie ‘The Lost World’.

When I gaze at the interesting but narrow strip of foreshore here, I half expect a tribe of loincloth-clad savages to come rushing out of the greenery hurling spears at me, like an Indiana Jones movie!

Tough work to transit on foot, it’s not surprising that from seaward it’s rare to see any signs of humanity except for the ubiquitous fishermen’s floats.

Sandstone stacks at Ladram Bay ©

Ladram Bay

There’s no real need to describe the famous bay here. Remarkable and red, it’s shallow and clear, edged to the north-west by the famous sandstone stacks. Although from a distance it all looks a uniform red, close up there is great variaition in the tones, and, of course, the hues also vary with the time of day and year.

Further to the north are the sheer red cliffs of High Peak which plunge down into the water from 500 feet with a variety of vegetation clinging to the rock face. There are layers of varying colours caused by algal growth, weed, erosion and dazzling seabird poo, or guano! I like to stop the boat and just drift for half an hour.

five ace places Quarries

Coastal quarry, Purbeck ©

A Coast of Quarries

The stretch of rugged, and sometimes inhospitable, coast between Anvil Point and St Aldhelm’s Head in Purbeck has been much-hewn by man. There is fairly deep water close in and all along these five miles or so are cubes and perpendiculars, straight lines and box-like shapes caused by the major quarrying that peaked here in the 18th and 19th centuries. (The Romans started it much earlier). Brooding rectangular caves, or galleries, peer out to sea like giant eyes.

The last coastal quarry to close here is Winspit, which shows an interesting mix of ancient and relatively modern techniques and is a popular visit on foot. It was Winspit that the BBC chose to represent the Daleks’ home plant Skaro in the Doctor Who TV series and several episodes were filmed here.

This is wonderfully appropriate in the sense that my new book, ‘The Jurassic Coast From The Sea’ is due for publication in spring 2018 and the foreword has been written by the creator of TV’s Broadchurch, Chris Chibnall. Chris has written several episodes of, and is, indeed, the new head writer and leading executive producer of Doctor Who!


I was only allowed to highlight five places here, but I equally love to visit The Chesil, Worbarrow, Man O’ War Cove, Budleigh Bay, Axmouth Harbour, Lyme, Old Harry… aaargh!’

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